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Orioles @ Rangers lineups and game notes for Tuesday night

The Orioles begin a three-game set tonight, facing the Rangers for the first time this season. Former Baltimore hero Joe Saunders will host Ubaldo Jimenez, with Nelson Cruz okay to play in left field.

Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

By splitting the Astros series, the Orioles managed to climb back above .500. It'd be nice of them to move back to several games above that mark, and with Nelson Cruz in the lineup, their odds are significantly better than without him.

Time: 8:05 Eastern Place: Globe Life Park in Arlington
Radio: BAL - WBAL 1090 AM; TEX - ESPN 103.3 FM


LHP Joe Saunders, Rangers
2014: 2 G, 4.15 ERA, 8.2 IP, 10 SO, 5 BB, .289 BAA, 1.85 WHIP
Last start (at Twins): 5.0 IP, 5 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 6 SO

Saunders is making his second start since coming off of the DL due to an ankle injury; Evan Longoria hit him with a line drive in his first start of the season. He's working on an extra day of rest, which hasn't helped him in the past: he actually pitches worse on more rest. Of course, it could simply be the reverse; perhaps when he's been struggling, teams have been more likely to give him an extra day, and it simply hasn't made a difference.

The obvious hook to this game is that the Orioles will be facing Saunders in the ballpark where he pitched them to their first ALDS in fifteen years. Hopefully the O's won't be as baffled as the Rangers were then.

RHP Ubaldo Jimenez, Orioles
2014: 11 GS, 4.65 ERA, 62.0 IP, 59 SO, 31 BB, .255 BAA, 1.48 WHIP
Last start (at Astros): 6.0 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 3 BB, 8 SO

Jimenez is showing himself to be quite unpredictable. He was horrible in April, then was nearly untouchable for three starts, then gave up five runs in consecutive outings, and most recently, had a good start in Houston. Guessing games aren't fun in general, and playing "Which Ubaldo will we get tonight?" is even less so.

There is a bit of a silver lining to Jimenez's overall numbers this season. Most of the ERA estimators (FIP, xFIP, SIERA) have his ERA right around 4, rather than over 4.5. That would suggest he's been unlucky in some respects, in part his HR/FB rate (11.1%). His BABiP is a bit high at .316, too, but so is his line drive rate (23.2%).


Orioles (w/ career stats vs. Saunders or 2014 stats vs. lefties)

RF Nick Markakis (L) 7-28
3B Manny Machado (R) 2-7
LF Nelson Cruz (R) 11-33, 2B, 2 HR
CF Adam Jones (R) 4-19, 2B
1B Chris Davis (L) 3-18, HR
SS J.J. Hardy (R) 2-8, HR
DH Delmon Young (R) 3-10, 2B, HR
2B Jonathan Schoop (R) .128/.209/.128
C Caleb Joseph) .105/.150/.105

There's a decent amount of power history there throughout the order, but the lack of OBP from the top two doesn't inspire confidence. Schoop's really struggling against lefties so far this year, but the common wisdom is that few quality lefties stay in the minors for long, so everybody has to learn the hard way once they make it to the majors.

Rangers (w/ career stats vs. Jimenez or 2014 stats vs. righties)

DH Shin-Soo Choo (L) 1-3, HR
SS Elvis Andrus (R) 2-11, 2B, 4 BB (.400 OBP)
1B Mitch Moreland (L) 2-12, 2 2B
3B Adrian Beltre (R) 6-17, 2 2B, HR
RF Alex Rios (R) 2-15, 3 BB
LF Michael Choice (R) .227/.263/.347
CF Leonys Martin (L) 1-6, HR
C Robinson Chirinos (R) .225/.276/.324
2B Rougned Odor (L) .364/.356/.591

There are a lot of extra-base hits in there, and a fair number of walks to support them. With a finesse lefty on the mound, this could end up pretty ugly if Jimenez isn't on his game.